What is child abuse or child neglect?


Everyone has the right to live a life free of abuse. Abuse can take different forms, ranging from exploitation and disrespectful treatment to physical harm. It can be at a low level, taking place over a long time, or it can take place over a short time and be more extreme. It can include

  • physical abuse
  • domestic abuse 
  • sexual abuse
  • racial abuse
  • financial abuse (including scams)
  • hate crime 
  • modern slavery and trafficking


Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet someone's basic needs.

For example, the person may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care.

Someone who's neglected will often suffer from other abuse as well. And neglect is dangerous - it can cause serious, long-term damage - even death.

Self-neglect can also fall under this area of concern.

Physical abuse

If someone purposely hurts a child or young person this is physical abuse.

This could be hitting, smacking, shaking, burning, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.

Sexual abuse

If a child or young person is asked or forced to take part in sexual activity, or watch sexual activity or content, this is sexual abuse.

This can include making a child or young person do sexual things to themselves or other people, showing them sexual material or taking photos or filming them doing things of a sexual nature.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is when a child or young person is made to feel worthless, wrong, unfairly blamed, bullied or frightened.

Signs of child abuse or neglect

You can find more information on the signs of child abuse on the NSPCC website.

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If you see a young person in immediate danger, or involved in a serious crime – call  999
Where you are looking for helpful information, support, or ways to contact the council about concerns for a child, then please see below.

Do you have concerns about a child's safety or wellbeing?


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